Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Cultural market excursions offer off-campus cuisines

Oshan Hamal
Sophomore Sushmita Adhikari and First-Year Chau Tran shop for groceries for the upcoming Cultural Cooking Workshop on Nov. 15 at Jasper Mart.

As the sun shined its last rays of warmth down on the lower quad, students from all different backgrounds made their way up through the stairs of the Gerber where they stood outside waiting for their ride. On Wednesday Nov. 15, these students traveled through the Quad Cities on a “cultural market excursion.”

Juanita Trevino Perez, Augustana’s international student advisor as well as a driver for the excursions, said that the purpose of the excursions is to provide an opportunity to both domestic and international students to visit ethnic markets at no cost for transportation. 

“I’m excited to kick off this cultural market. I think it’s needed, not just for international students, but for all of our campus community,” Perez said. “It’s also a good opportunity in order for people to get to know our local markets in the area.” 

Currently, the excursions take place twice a month and consist of two different routes, the blue and the yellow route. Both routes are a compilation of three different stores which may change throughout time. 

Sophomore Hoang Trieu, the creator of the market excursions, said that his goal is to help students reconnect with their cultures while they also continue to learn from others. 

“The market excursions teach you things that you can’t find in textbooks. We all have different backgrounds, so going into the stores and seeing your friend buy their favorite snack, you connect to their story and also to their culture,” Trieu said.

As the students entered the first store, they found themselves immersed by the colorful aisles. With smiles on their faces they began to grab the products and quickly fill up their carts and baskets. 

Tenzin Choedon, a First-Year student, was happy to be a part of this experience. Some of the products brought back memories from her childhood. 

“I used to eat these candies when I was a child. I can’t believe that I now have access to them here,” Choedon said. 

The second store smelled like garam masala, the spice that adds richness in flavor to many Indian dishes. 

Hanyia Khan, a First-Year student, said that she felt at home. As she looked around she was happy to be able to point at the products and know what they were and how they could be used. 

“It feels so homely. When I stepped in I was like, ‘this smells like a store that would be in my country,’” said Khan. 

The aisles were small and people often had to squeeze by which allowed interaction between the students and other customers. 

“Everyone is very interested and curious. They go on asking what’s that stuff? And I get the chance to tell them what those things are,” Choedon said. “The best part is that they are taking in my recommendations and buying stuff.”

Unlike the other stores, the third store was very spacious. At this store students could find food, hygiene products, furniture, jewelry, technology and even cultural clothing. 

Thang Khia, the owner of the store said that this store is his newest location which opened seven months ago. When he first opened the store he wanted to make everyone feel welcomed, and therefore, he began to incorporate all kinds of products.

“We are still in the process of adding African and Middle Eastern foods as well. If you look at the middle aisle, you can see that we have a few pallets that we haven’t unloaded yet,” Khia said. 

From a far distance, the bright red sign of the last store gleamed. The students were already packed with bags. However, that didn’t stop them from rushing into the store with the same amount of energy with which they had entered the first store. 

“The store owner gave us all samosas. It tasted really good because the potato filling was well seasoned and had an authentic taste that brought back many memories from my home country,” Choedon said. 

The excursions will continue to take place biweekly so if you’re looking to try something new, make sure to be on the lookout for the next spot reservation forms. 

“Come and hang out with us, and let us know if you have more ideas that you think would make our program even more exciting,” Trieu said.

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